Serious gardeners have already ordered their plants, and started this year’s crop of annuals and lettuces. The rest of us? Feeling inspired perhaps, thanks to the record warmth and bounty of cut daffodils in storefronts everywhere. I get additional motivation (and great ideas) from the gardening books that land on my desk.
Despite last year’s notable lack of success—thanks to rabbit raids on my fenced-in vegetable garden—I’m determined to grow a few veggies and herbs this year. My new reference from University of Minnesota Press is Fresh from the Garden: An Organic Guide to Growing Vegetables, Berries, and Herbs in Cold Climates by John Whitman. A 50-year veteran of gardening and garden writing, he knows whereof he speaks when it comes to choosing varieties; where and how to plant, tend, and harvest them; and even how to store and use them.
If native gardening is your focus, local garden writer Lynn Steiner offers a wealth of information, design, and how-to help in Grow Native: Bringing Natural Beauty to Your Garden. An advocate of what she calls “responsible gardening”—combining a love of gardening with a determination to cause as little damage as possible to the natural world—Steiner focuses on benefiting native ecosystems, including flora and fauna.
Pollinators, threatened by commonly used insecticides, need all the help they can get from gardeners. And many step up to the plate by planting gardens with bee and butterfly-friendly plants such as phlox, cornflowers, liatris, bee balm, and milkweed. In Pollinator Friendly Gardening: Gardening for Bees, Butterflies, and other Pollinators, local writer Rhonda Hayes advises on plant selection, hardscape choices, habitat building (both natural and manmade), and growing practices that give pollinators their best chance in the garden.
Another handy little volume—small enough to fit in a pocket—that came my way: Stuff Every Gardener Should Know, by Scott Meyer. It’s sold as a pocket reference for any gardener, veteran or newbie. Its easy-to-follow checklists convinced me of its utility. This one may go with me to the garden center in a month or two.